Foes launch anti-'super-sized' truck ads

Foes launch anti-'super-sized' truck ads
© Wikimedia Commons

Opponents of a plan to increase the length of twin-trailer trucks allowed on U.S. roads are launching an ad campaign to try to convince Congress to leave the current limit in place.

The Alexandria, Va.-based Coalition Against Bigger Trucks (CABT) is running ads on Washington radio stations beginning on Monday in opposition to an effort in Congress to increase a current limit of 28-foot trailers on trucks that carry two loads to rigs that are 33 feet long apiece. 

Truck groups say the "twin 33" proposal will increase the amount of cargo that can be shipped in the U.S. on a single trip without requiring drivers to work extra hours. 

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The anti-bigger-truck coalition says the change would increase the length of trucks on U.S. roadways to 91 feet when sleeper cabs and dollies are factored in. 

"With the thousands of traffic fatalities on our roads every year, highway safety should be our top priority. But some in Congress want to force states to allow super-sized trucks on our roads," Ohio police chief Bruce Gower said in the ad. 

"These bigger trucks would be even longer than the double-trailer trucks on the roads today," Gower continued. "They are the equivalent of an eight-story building tilted on its side. Imagine a truck that long with two trailers barreling down the road next to you. ... Super-sized double-trailers are not safe for you or your family." 

The trucking industry has been seeking increases in both length and weight for years. 

Safety advocates have pointed to crashes such as the 2014 accident involving comedian Tracy Morgan to argue that bigger trucks would hazardous to U.S. drivers.

"As a police chief, I’m concerned because these super-sized double-trailer trucks take longer to stop than the trucks on the road today," Gower says in the coalition's ad. "And as a motorist, I know firsthand how stressful it can be when trucks with double trailers pass you on the highway. The last thing we need to do is make them longer.

Truck companies have blamed opposition to the proposals on rail companies who are also vying for cargo customers. 

"Under the guise of public safety, special interest front groups funded by the rail and insurance industries ... are pulling out all the stops as they lobby Washington against legislation to reduce freight traffic on U.S. highways," Coalition for Efficient and Responsible Trucking spokesman Ed Patru said in an email on Friday. 

"The legislation, which would allow for a modest extension in the length of twin 28-foot double trailers, would eliminate an estimated 6.6 million truck trips annually and prevent over 900 highways accidents per year," he continued.